February 14, 2019 / 4:04 AM / 2 days ago

Indonesia seen again having big trade deficit in January: Reuters poll

A general view of the Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia likely suffered another wide trade gap in January even though imports probably contracted for the first time since June 2017, a Reuters poll showed.

January’s deficit will be $970 million, according to the median forecast of 12 analysts in the poll, just a touch narrower than December’s revised $1.03 billion gap.

Imports were seen down 1.05 percent in January from a year earlier, compared to a 1.72 percent annual increase in December.

Exports in January probably declined 2.54 percent from a year earlier, the poll showed, which would be a third month of contraction.

Authorities in Southeast Asia's largest economy issued a series of measures in the second half of 2018 to curb imports and support the rupiah IDR=, which was under pressure from capital outflows part of the year. The moves included raising import taxes and hiking interest rates.

However, January’s predicted fall in imports would stem more from a seasonal trend of slower economic activity at the beginning of a year rather than government intervention, according to Juniman, chief economist of Maybank Indonesia.

Jakarta has also announced measures to boost shipments, including by providing cheaper export financing, expediting free trade negotiations and easing documentation rules for automotive exports.

Indonesia’s 2018 trade gap of $8.5 billion was the widest on record.

Polling by Nilufar Rizki and Tabita Diela; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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